My ability to explore Missouri’s historic resources has been somewhat limited due to COVID, but yesterday I finally stopped by Countee Hall here at Fort Leonard Wood. Historically a Black Officer’s club (one of the few remaining structures representative of segregation in the Army, which ended in 1948) the club features a beautiful mural painted by Samuel Countee. Countee was a successful artist who was drafted into the army during WWII and stationed here in 1945. After the war, Countee continued his professional career as an artist, producing works for Louis Armstrong, James Weldon Johnson, Harry Belafonte, and more. Because his signature had worn away over time, Countee’s identity as the muralist was largely forgotten until 1998. The building was being considered for demolition after laying vacant for several years, but the Army fortunately chose to preserve it and undertook a full rehabilitation of the structure and restoration of the mural in 2018.
ACHP Section 106 Success Story: https://www.achp.gov/sites/default/files/2019-04/Ft.%20Leonard%20Wood.pdf.
Rehabilitating the WWII Black Officers’ Club, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri: https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/rehabilitating-the-wwii-black-officers-club-fort-leonard-wood-missouri-2/